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Andrea Previtali, The Virgin and Child adored by Two Angels

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child adored by Two Angels
Artist Andrea Previtali
Artist dates about 1480 - 1528
Date made about 1505
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions 67.9 × 93.8 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3111
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Virgin and Child adored by Two Angels
Andrea Previtali

The Virgin is seated on the ground in the valley of a north Italian mountainous landscape. The naked infant Christ sits upright on her lap, holding two cherries, which symbolise the fruit of paradise. Two angels kneel before him, their arms crossed in adoration and hands clasped in prayer.

Images of the Virgin seated on the ground in a landscape are known as ‘the Madonna of Humility’. This type of composition was favoured by Previtali’s teacher, the Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. It was intended to express the Virgin’s humility and her presence in everyday life.

X-ray images reveal that the Virgin originally looked out at the viewer, but Previtali repainted her face. Now none of the figures look at each other or us, and their distant gazes give the painting a still, contemplative atmosphere. The composition was based on a painting by Boccaccio Boccaccino of about 1500. It was not unusual at the time for patrons to specify that an artist should follow an established model.

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